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Sunday, Feb 05, 2023

SpaceX moon flight to include DJ, YouTuber and K-pop rapper

A Japanese billionaire recruits an artists-only crew for a space voyage around the moon. A commercial DJ, K-pop rapper, and a space YouTuber are to go on a trip around the Moon, after they were picked by a Japanese billionaire for a private SpaceX flight.

Businessman Yusaku Maezawa revealed his crew on Friday after a global search for creative individuals last year.

American DJ Steve Aoki and Korean star TOP are the most high-profile picks.

The flight, scheduled for next year, could be the first lunar journey by humans since 1972.

The proposed fly-by would see a spacecraft circle the moon, coming within 200km (124 miles) of the surface. The trip would take eight days from launch to return.

However, US regulators are yet to give permission for the Starship rocket from Elon Musk's SpaceX company that the crew is supposed to travel on.

The ship has not even been approved for an orbital journey around the Earth and has been grounded for the past 18 months in Texas, after it completed a test launch in May 2021.

But Mr Maezawa made no mention of this delay in his video announcing the crew for the mission he's dubbed dearMoon.

The opening scene shows Mr Maezawa in a Japanese garden looking up at the moon. It then cuts to show the first crew member - DJ Aoki - at one of his shows.

"I can't miss this opportunity. My soul is begging for this," the Billboard-charting artist says in the video.

The next passenger revealed is Youtuber Tim Dodd - also known as the Everyday Astronaut- who has 1.4 million followers online for his educational videos on spaceflight and astrophysics.

In his own video released on Friday the vlogger said he couldn't believe he'd been selected. He added that SpaceX's announcement in 2017 that it would send a civilian to the moon was "ironically, or poetically... actually what got me started making videos on Youtube."

The other announced dearMoon mission members are:

  • TOP (Choi Seung hyun), a K-pop rapper and former lead of boyband Big Bang (South Korea)
  • Dancer and choreographer Yemi A.D (Czech Republic)
  • Photographer Rhiannon Adam (Ireland)
  • Wildlife photographer Karim Iliya (UK)
  • Filmmaker Brendan Hall (US)
  • Actor Dev Joshi (India)

US Olympic snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington and Japanese dancer Miyu were named as back-up dancers.

"I hope each and every one will recognise the responsibility that comes with leaving the Earth, travelling to the moon and back," Mr Maezawa said.

"They will gain a lot from this experience and I hope they will use that to contribute to the planet, to humanity."

Mr Maezawa, who made his fortune in online fashion retailer Zozo, has become prominently involved in commercial space travel. Last year he went to the International Space Station on a Russian rocket for 12 days.

In 2018, he was named as the first private passenger due to be flown around the moon by SpaceX and said he would sponsor the cost of eight other passengers on board.

The price Mr Maezawa agreed to pay for his ticket to space has not been disclosed, but according to Mr Musk it was "a lot of money".

In 2020, he also launched a documentary search for a new girlfriend to join him on his moon voyage, before cancelling due to "mixed feelings".

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